Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Roger Rock Candy

Luilekkerland, that is to say Cockaigne, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1567 - public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
This is a not very nice Kateverse folksong about a not very nice person. It's from Alland, about eighteen years after Katy Elflocks and twelve before Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland. Aren't millennarian insurgencies just peachy?


Roger Jackson got good drunk,
Dreamed as the Good Witch shared his bunk.
Said as she gave him an ashwand sword,
And bade him slay both priest and lord.

Hey, hey, Roger Rock!
"Pig wrapped up in a damsel’s frock!"
That’s how you named him, bold Sir Hugh -
Roger Hog was the bane of you!

Took to the hills with his hungry men,
Took all the lords stole, back again.
Wound about with Amend-All's charms,
He took no hurt from mortal arms.

Hey, hey, Roger Rock!
"Vaunting shriek of a dunghill cock!"
That’s how you scorned him, Lady Jane -
Roger Cock made you shriek again!

Knights charged forth, no foe did find.
Spies slunk out, doom struck them blind.
Rodge Rock Candy banged the drum,
And swore if we followed, Witch would come.

Hey, hey, Roger Rock!
"Rotted fruit of a gallows stock!"
That's all you drad him, Eaton Town -
Roger Rot plucked your dead sons down!

We broke and ran at Blaxton Neck
And all the Witch's boons did wreck.
The knights rode down our Roger brave.
Their curs to kennels home they drave.

When Roger Rock by Katy's kiss
Is raised from death to lively bliss,
The Dales-boys all shall fight like men,
And gentry heads we’ll reap again!

Hey, hey, Roger Rock!
"Come home soon, 'cause it's late o' the clock!"
We'll follow when thou bang'st the drum -
To Candy Country march us home!

In the 'real' Kateverse, Roger Jackson was turned out of doors by his lord for idleness and brawling. After some obscure months of tramping, he reappeared claiming to have been chosen by the Good Witch Katy Deathkiller as her lover and prophet, and sent back from her Sugar-Loaf Country to deliver his comrades from their false masters' oppression.

Fiery and infused with a new and wonderful eloquence, he swiftly rose to head a band of fellow-outlaws, and won fame by killing the unpopular and arrogant Sir Hugh de Beazle, staff against sword. With each success his following and his claims grew, and as 'Roger Rock Candy' he became a sort of evil Robin Hood figure to the downtrodden peasants of mid-Regency Allingdale. At last he came to lead a general uprising by the many disaffected of Lower Alland, raiding manors at will from his fastness in the broken and unprofitable country between Haresborough and Fenny Side. 'Lady Jane' seems to be a fictional figure, and none of the high nobility ever fell into his power - but the character and conduct of Roger and his rabble were by all accounts just like that.

When the free town of Eaton refused to join his crusade, he took it, burned it, and slaughtered all the burghal families, as well as every male over twelve who had not joined him. But now Roger had too large a force either to hide or to well control, and earned many mortal enemies among the commons by his massacre. Pursued by Lord Dunstan Hammerfell's heavy cavalry from the north, and menaced by a strong combined force mustering at nearby Wark under the able Sir Raymond Ridout, he rallied his folk by the promise that Good Katy herself would join them if they dared to meet the knights openly in her name.

So inflamed, the rebels cut off Lord Dunstan at the pass of Blaxton Neck - an excellent move, had they not shattered at the knights' first charge. Good Katy conspicuously failed to prevent Roger's ignominious slaughter, and a detachment of light horse and woodsmen sent in a surprise flanking manoeuvre by Sir Raymond made bloody hash of his fleeing followers. The entire rebellion lasted one summer, and had no lasting effect except to impoverish the rich lands of Leadale and to increase the general level of class hatred and oppression.

Naturally, Alland is full of people who want nothing better than for Roger to come back and do them even better next time. Needless to say, had Katy Elflocks ever really met him, she would have loathed him far more even than she loathed her personal aristocratic back-monkey, the Golden Margravine of Alland.

Only the faintest trace of this is likely to appear in the actual story, but this is the kind of crap my good guys have to work with. I could almost feel sorry for them, sometimes!

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